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Video kickoff to Advani case

Lucknow, July 29: Ayodhya will return to the courtroom tomorrow after an abortive truce bid when a Rae Bareli court views a video film showing the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The next day, the court will begin hearing arguments in the case in which deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and seven other leaders linked to the Sangh parivar are charged with making “provocative speeches” on December 6, 1992 — the day of the demolition — in Ayodhya.

In the chargesheet filed in May this year, the CBI says Advani and the seven others had made “provocative speeches” on the morning of December 6, 1992, with “indications to demolish the disputed structure”.

The CBI chargesheet — which ignited a controversy following charges that it had dropped a key conspiracy charge against Advani — levels the allegation primarily on the basis of a complaint lodged by the then sub-inspector and in-charge of Ram Janam Bhumi Chowki, Ganga Prasad Tiwari. The policeman has said he witnessed the eight accused delivering speeches from a platform before the mosque was pulled down.

Apart from Advani, the other accused include Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi, VHP leaders Giriraj Kishore and Sadhvi Rithambhara and BJP leaders Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharti.

“The above leaders by their provocative speeches were provocating/inciting the kar sevaks by slogans like ‘ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do’,” the CBI chargesheet says. Since the speeches were inflammatory, lakhs of “kar sevaks stormed the disputed structure and demolished it”.

Barring one page, the CBI’s nine-page chargesheet contains background information on how various Ayodhya cases have evolved. It mentions neither individual speeches nor specifics on what happened.

All the eight accused have been exempt from personal appearance in the court.

This is the first case related to Ayodhya being taken up in a court since the Kanchi Sankaracharya’s out-of-court initiative involving the All India Muslim Personal Law Board collapsed.

As one legal chapter unfolds at Rae Bareli, so will another at Lucknow.

On August 5, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court will hear an appeal filed by former Faizabad district magistrate R.. Srivastava, challenging the CBI’s revision petition which had sought annulment of an order by a special judge on May 5, 2001.

The special judge had dropped the proceedings against 21 accused, including VHP leaders Mahant Avaidyanath, Ram Vilas Vedanti and Ramchandradas Paramhans and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackerey, while quashing on technical ground a composite chargesheet filed by the CBI.

The ailing Paramhans, the president of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, was shifted to Ayodhya from a hospital in Lucknow today in keeping with his wishes.

Srivastava’s counsel I.B. Singh said: “We have argued in the petition that the CBI’s combined chargesheet cannot be separated. So it should be withdrawn and filed separately.”

The Lucknow bench will also take up hearings on the CBI’s revision petition on August 6.

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